There has been a lot of talk recently about prospective employers asking job candidates for their password to Facebook or other social media sites. And about making a job offer contingent upon not just passing the traditional background search (criminal, job and education verification, credit check in some case0 but upon passing the employer’s idea of a “clean” social media background. Is this a good idea?
While it is unlikely that doing so would violate any privacy laws (if we are dealing with private employment and thus not dealing with constitutional concerns), there is simply too much information on social media sites that an employer has no business knowing. I can look through someone’s Facebook page and learn their religion, if they are married, their sexual orientation, if they drink and what their political leanings are. Most employers know that they can’t ask these questions during a job interview, so why should they be able to learn about this information through social media, especially when the employee may have made the information “private” with the appropriate privacy settings?
In addition, there is nothing that says that even if someone did something stupid while on vacation, or went crazy at a party at took some pictures drinking beer or some cocktail, that he or she would not be a good employee. Private lives should remain that, and asking candidates for their social media passwords is prying too much into employees’ private spheres.